With love from Europe: Germany

Let me start this journey with a confession: because of my roots I had prejudices towards Germany. For a long time I did not even want to visit that country where my family was tortured. After a while I gave in, and visited Berlin, its capital in 2003 for the first time. A whole new world began.

Though we spent there 4 days, I only remember one thing from my journey to Berlin in 2003: it is the Jewish Museum. The building itself is a piece of art, and it also tells a story with the help of light and shadow, narrow and broad corridors and other details I might haven’t noticed. The buliding, which is the work of a genius, architect Daniel Liebeskind, tells the story of torture and freedom in a subtle way, that the visitor only can feel it, not “know” it.

The exhibition is also impressive: one can dive into the history of German Jews from the beginnings, but it was the building that caught my imagination, and does not let me go since then. I felt respect coming from the building: respect towards Jews and history (which is a very difficult and painful question for a lot of German people, as far as I know).

Jewish Museum Berlin
The Jewish Museum by likemike

During that 4 days we visited Checkpoint Charlie as well – which is a museum now about those people who tried to flee to Western Germany from Eastern Germany during the Cold War – but I did not get the point, did not feel what it could have meant, though I really tried to. Not until 2008, when I visited Berlin again. I was walking along the Eastside Gallery –  which is a small part of the Berlin Wall, that remained more or less in one piece – I was watching at the graffiti and reading the messages visitors left: it was a beautiful sunny and peaceful day. Later that day somehow I found myself at Potsdamer Platz, the centre of Berlin, where the original Wall was.

Looking at the small parts of the wall the city left there for memento, I started to feel anxiety and despair, and started to understand what could have happened to the thousands of families, that were torn apart when the Berlin Wall was
erected during one summer night in 1961.

Eastside Gallery: Beauty will save the world!
Eastside Gallery: Beauty will save the world by vadjutka

Don’t worry, there are lots and lots of other places in Berlin, that do not have this heavy historical meaning like the above mentioned ones. For example there is the most popular area, named Friedrichshain with lots of galleries, design shops and cafes. If you happen to have a walk there, dont forget to visit Szimpla which is a lovely Hungarian cafe in that area. Also, if you want to have a fun evening go to the cult bar, Kaffee Burger which hosts the famous Russian Disco every second month. I just don’t have words how funny it is to party for Russian (and sometimes Hungarian) music and shout it out loud: Disco in Moscow!

PS.: I have to admit that the 95% of the time I spent in Germany was in Berlin, which is only a small part of Germany. Next time I will visit other parts as well, I promise!

images: collage by stephanie levy, scarf by avaoriginal, cuff by latouchables

5 thoughts on “With love from Europe: Germany

  1. Judit, your writing is so eloquent, and your experiences are touching and speek universally–I could feel you standing there at Potsdamer Platz, and feeling the melancholy sweep over you, as well as feel the impressions of the Jewish Museum, and how the architecture spoke to you–like great art always does.

    Thank you for showing my work, too!

  2. I was in Poland 2 years ago and visited Auschwitz, it still haunts me today, to see in reality that which I had read about so often and for so long. I’m Northern Irish and at primary school we read ‘Anne Frank’ and ‘I am David’ etc as a way of exploring the maddness of how one group of people can hate another for no real reason. Of course we were living with daily reminders then of how that very thing was happening in our own country with bombs all the time, shootings; but the holocaust was used as a very effective way of showing the (almost unbelieveable) extremes, what could happen if that hatred grew so strong.
    Now we live in a country of peace of co operation and a joint government. We learn from our collectives pasts, though we wish they had not been so.
    I hope this makes sense.

  3. Hi Judit,

    Yes, I often have these mixed feelings in Germany myself, although I have lived here for many years.

    In any case, I also agree that Berlin is a unique place and very much worth visiting – for all of the reasons you mentioned. I went to the Russian Disco years ago when I lived in Berlin and it really was a lot of fun.

    Thanks also for featuring my Wohnzimmer collage here!


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